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Curricular Practical Training
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a way for students on F1 visa to engage in lawful employment and gain valuable work experience to further their studies in their field.
CPT is defined as an integral part of an established curriculum, including alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or other type of required internship that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. The position offered to the student must be an integral part of the school’s established curriculum. CPT is available only prior to completion of your degree program and you must have a job offer at the time of application.
Any request for CPT will be made to your school’s Designated School Official (DSO) – unlike with Optional Practical Training (OPT), you need not wait for U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services to authorize your work. The student may begin CPT after obtaining a Form I-20 endorsed by the DSO for the duration that is specified on the form.
As with all practical training, however, the default rule is that students must have received at least one full academic year of education before becoming eligible for employment. For CPT, there is an exception to this one-academic-year requirement for students that are enrolled in graduate studies that require immediate participation in CPT employment as part of the established curriculum.
Limitations on Employment
Students engaging in CPT employment are still expected to maintain a full course of study, as required by the F1 visa. A full course of study is, essentially, the number of credit hours that is certified by the school’s DSO as a full course of study so may differ from school to school. Further, no more than one class or three credit hours per semester may be counted toward the full course of study if the course does not require physical attendance for classes. Thus, if a student’s employment has her working in California but the school’s campus is in Ohio, for example, the student may have difficulty meeting on-campus attendance requirements, and therefore maintaining a full course of study, or may otherwise incur significant expense travelling back-and-forth.
Unlike with OPT, there is no unemployment limit on CPT. However, if your DSO has endorsed a Form I-20 authorizing CPT employment, this means that employment is an integral part of the established curriculum and that you have been registered in that class to pursue college credits. So if you are enrolled in a CPT class but not working as required, then you may have difficulty meeting the “full course of study” requirement.
Limitations on Travel
International travel is generally permitted during CPT employment. However, again, the student must still maintain a full course of study at the school. Different schools will have different rules related to travel while on CPT, so it is important to work with your DSO to ensure that you are maintaining the terms of your visa.
Hire a Skilled Law Firm
Advice from a good immigration lawyer is imperative for international students seeking work authorization. The knowledgeable attorneys at Sam Shihab & Associates can help foreign nationals as well as their employers by providing sound legal advice and services. Our offices are in Dublin and Columbus, Ohio and in Troy, Michigan, but we also work with clients from all parts of the world. From anywhere in the world, feel free to phone or email one of our skilled attorneys at Sam Shihab & Associates, so we can talk about your specific visa needs and options.